Tags: Heart Disease | scared | death | adrenalin | halloween

Can You Be Literally Scared to Death?

Can You Be Literally Scared to Death?

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By    |   Monday, 31 October 2016 01:49 PM


Many of the traditions of Halloween or All Hallows' Eve are believed to have originated from Celtic harvest traditions, and ghosts and spirits have always been a part of the festivities.


Today traditional customs are continued with ghosts and other spirits ready to give a fright. But are they harmless? Or could a fright actually scare you to death?


The answer may be frightening: "It is possible for someone to have health complications or die from fright," said John P. Erwin III, M.D., a cardiologist and professor at the Texas A&M College of Medicine.


"It is more probable for people who have pre-existing conditions, but it is possible to suffer a cardiac-related death as a result of being scared."


Erwin says the possibility of being frightened to death lies in the body's automatic nervous system, called the sympathetic nervous system, which governs the fight-or-flight response — the body’s natural protective mechanism.


When faced with a life-threatening situation, the nervous system triggers the release of the hormone adrenaline into the blood. A surge of adrenaline causes changes such as an increased heart rate and increased blood flow to the heart.


But if the adrenaline boost is too much or lasts too long, it could cause your heart to work too hard, damaging tissue or causing blood vessels to constrict and raise blood pressure.


The response could cause a heart attack or stroke, especially in those people with a predisposition to heart disease. "Some people with genetic heart abnormalities who get a sudden rush of adrenaline can have a cardiac arrhythmia.


"They can have an episode where their heart goes out of rhythm, and that can be fatal."

Erwin gives an example of a woman with damaged heart tissue held at gunpoint. He explains that she could experience fatal rhythm abnormalities or that her increased need for oxygen might not be met due to blocked or abnormal responses of her blood vessels.


"There is no doubt that there is a small possibility of death or lasting complications from fear," Erwin said.

"Fear has its purpose in life, such as alerting you to danger, but in rare instances the scare is enough to be a danger in itself."
 

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Many of the traditions of Halloween or all Hallows' Eve are believed to have originated from Celtic harvest traditions, and ghosts and spirits have always been a part of the festivities. Today traditional customs are continued with ghosts and other spirits ready to give a...
scared, death, adrenalin, halloween
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2016-49-31
Monday, 31 October 2016 01:49 PM
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